Convocation and chapel at Goshen College are part of what makes this place unique. Many schools have required chapel or forum or assembly. Many colleges don’t have a system quite like ours.

Why do we have convocation and chapel? What is working well? What could we do to make them better?

These are questions that I ponder frequently. I know some students don’t make a distinction between convocation and chapel, which meet at the same time of day, in the same place, with the same PowerPoint announcements running as one enters the Church-Chapel.

Why convocation? My husband Ken teaches physics at Goshen High School. He slipped away during his preparation period on Feb. 16 to attend the China S.S.T. convocation because our son David was part of the China group.

If you were there, perhaps you remember the video clips of each individual student or the funny and touching stories about shoes, foreigner celebrity and flowery language that gave us all a window into Chinese culture.

“There was great karma in that room,” Ken said afterward. “We don’t have anything even remotely like this at the high school.”

At its best, convocation gathers a critical mass of the college community together for an engaging learning experience surrounding one or more of the Goshen College core values.

Convocation and chapel by the numbers:

114 – Typical number of convocations and chapels required for a student to attend in four years at Goshen College (assuming a fall or spring semester S.S.T.; the number is a bit higher for summer S.S.T. or on-campus alternative S.S.T. courses)

398 – Number of convocations and chapels I have attended in almost six years as convocation coordinator

135 – Number of students who have met with me in those same six years in order to resolve their attendance deficit before they can graduate

539 – Number of students who attended the opening convocation with President Brenneman last fall (the highest attended event each year)

15-20 – Number of students who have been caught committing attendance fraud this year (we don’t keep any records of these folks; this is my best guess)

1 – Number of students who were defiant after being caught committing fraud.

Becky Horst is associate professor of communication at Goshen College.